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4 things political campaign ads can teach us about marketing
October 24, 2012 | Inga Rundquist

If you’re anything like us, you’ve just about had it with the campaign ads we’re being subjected to every minute of the day. After all, there’s only so much message-approving and character-attacking you can take.

Nonetheless, next time a political ad appears on your TV screen, resist the urge to rip out your hair and instead consider what marketing lessons you can apply to your business. Elections bring advertising – and especially TV spots – to the forefront, and we can learn a lot from them.

Here we go…

Stay on message.

Just like in branding, the worst thing that can happen to a political campaign is to lose track of your key messages. In politics, every politician has a specific narrative they want people to remember about them. The more they can talk about those key points (translation – the more they can hammer those things into our head over and over and over again…), the more likely we will remember them for these key points. It’s the same with branding. Never lose track of your brand’s key messages. The more often you can reinforce key elements of your brand, the more likely people will associate those things with your brand.

Always proofread!

At risk of sounding like your 7th grade English teacher – never EVER forget to proofread your marketing pieces. Whether it’s a banner ad, a case study, a radio script or a social media update, a spelling or grammar error can negatively impact your brand. Earlier this year, the Obama team created a banner ad that used the word "along” when it should have been "a long.” And Mitt Romney’s iPhone app came under fire when the word "America” was misspelled. Yikes!

Define yourself.

Define yourself, or someone else will do it for you. This, my friends, is the reason politicians start spending millions of dollars on ads when the election is still months away. They know that if they don’t "define” themselves in the minds of the public, their opponent will do it for them. The same is true to your brand. Identify your brand, and then take proactive measures to communicate that brand with your target audience.

Be a human.

Although candidate’s speeches are full of the political topics of the day, campaigns have learned how important it is to show of the personality of their candidates. Obama is known as an avid sports fan, and Romney talks about his family every chance he gets. The lesson? Show your customers and clients that you’re human every once in a while. It can’t be all business all the time. Talk about your family, your hobbies, your passions. Otherwise, you’re running the risk of never truly connecting!

See? Although campaign ads are just about as annoying as a fly in your bedroom, you can learn something from them after all!

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